Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNA) to investigate the disappearance of hundreds of residents of the city of Tarhouna.
The government had said in November 2020 that a new mass grave was found in Tarhuna, which was recently liberated from warlord Khalifa Haftar’s militia.
Till date, some 120 bodies, according to HRW, have been removed from the mass grave identified, as the rights group called on the GNA to investigate ‘what happened to the missing inhabitants’.
It is understood that the first discovery came the day after the departure of the forces of Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a strongman from eastern Libya, who tried in vain from April 2019 to conquer Tripoli, where the UN-recognised GNA is headquartered.
‘At least 338 Tarhouna residents were reported missing after the local Al-Kani militia, known as Kaniyat, took control of the city in 2015’, HRW said.
The rights organisation said it gathered from residents that the militia, allied with Khalifa Haftar, ‘abducted, detained, tortured, and killed people’ who opposed it or were suspected of doing so.
But Libyan authorities, according to HRW, said they had not yet identified the bodies found in a mass grave.
‘Take appropriate measures to identify the bodies and bring those responsible for abuses to justice’, HRW researcher on Libya, Hanan Salah, said.
The Kaniyat militia and its leader were punished in November by U.S. authorities by the freezing of their assets in the US and the prohibition of transactions with them within the American banking system for the crime of torturing and killing civilians during a cruel campaign of oppression in Libya.
The Kaniyat militia and its leader, Mohamed al-Kani, were punished in November by U.S. authorities for ‘torturing and killing civilians’ during a cruel campaign of oppression in Libya.
Libya has been plunged into violence since the NATO-supported uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.
Photo source: AFP